Thursday, 05 January 2017 14:38

Resting in a Perpetually Busy World

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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We have rolled over into a new year, on the heels of what is traditionally a busy season.  We may search for pockets of rest that can help rejuvenate our souls and our bodies when weariness sets in.  Actually, it’s really not just a seasonal thing...Jesus tells us to come to Him for rest, but the demands and distractions of everyday life can keep us from enjoying that experience.

I came across a piece on the Boston Globe website about a conference that was held at the Old South Church there.  Interestingly enough, a crowd described as dozens gathered at this “interfaith” event.  To me, that implies that it was a small crowd; perhaps many were just too busy to come.  It was sponsored by what is called the Lord’s Day Alliance. The article says the organization was “founded by six major Protestant denominations in 1888,” and it “spent a century fighting to force industrialists to give workers time to attend religious services and, later, to protect the Blue Laws. But little by little, drinking, sporting, and shopping became permissible on Sundays; in the last 20 or so years, the group has shifted to advocating for an internal recognition of the Sabbath.”


The group’s executive director, Rev. Rodney L. Petersen, is quoted as saying, “The point is, where can a stressed-out society find regeneration and renewal?”


Rev. Demetrios Tonias, dean of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral of New England, was interviewed for the article. He related, “Over the last few decades, we have slowly and steadily lost our concept of sacred time,” adding, “The temporal creeps in and cuts us off from the eternal.” The story points out that, “The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos, or measurable, sequential time, and kairos, a more abstract period of time in which something significant happens.”


The article points out that... responsibilities — be they related to school, work, household, or social obligations — seem to seep into every crevice of waking life.


“That is the biggest dilemma,” said Nancy T. Ammerman, a Boston University professor of the sociology of religion. “Once we say to people, you know, it would be a really good thing to have some sacred time, you choose when it is . . . . It’s the kind of thing that sounds perfect, it’s so American, design your own Sabbath. But that kind of discipline and observance is extremely difficult, done individually, or even just as a family.”


The piece refers to the so-called “blue laws,” when stores were closed and very little activity took place on Sunday.  We still see remnants of those in our culture today - malls opening later, some stores closed altogether, and for the Christian church, Sunday is still the primary day of worship.  But, the greater concept of rest for our souls is something that the Boston Globe article is exploring, stating: “...some people are looking longingly at the religious structures that once forced even the nonreligious to take time to relax and enjoy life, and experimenting with ways to embrace something like the Sabbath to help authorize a day away from workaday concerns.”


The good news is that rest is still available for the believer, and we should take time to pursue it.  In Hebrews 4:9-11, we can read: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”  Verse 12 then instructs us to appropriate the “living and powerful” Word of God.  In verse 16, we are invited to “come boldly before the “throne of grace.”


There are several concepts relative to enjoying God’s rest in the upcoming year:


• We recognize that Jesus is the source of our rest.  In Him, in His presence, before His Holy Word, we can lay down our burdens and we can find peace for our souls, the peace we seek, that passes all understanding.  


• We can make it an aim to seek out that rest.  It does sound odd that we are actually pursuing inactivity.  But, the human condition these days seems to be so wrapped up in perpetual motion.  God is calling us to, as Psalm 46 says, “be still and know” that He is God.


• This is a worthy priority for us, and we can be challenged to set a time for rest.  We may have to schedule a time to spend with our Lord and to enjoy His presence and to enter into that rest.  We have to be careful we do not allow this important component of our spiritual life to be crowded out by the pervasive activity in which we engage.



Last modified on Thursday, 05 January 2017 14:41
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